Mikhail Kalashnikov dies: Five quick-fire facts about the AK-47 inventor

As the Russian engineer passes away, aged 94, here are five quick-fire facts to get you up to bullet-speed, pronto

You might not be able to pronounce his name. You may not even know that he’s Russian (clue’s in the moniker, however)

Or, in fact, that he invented one of popular culture’s most heavily referenced weapons – and a gun that is equally synonymous with mass shootings and terrorism as it is with NWA lyrics and Tarantino's Jackie Brown: the AK-47.

Mikhail Kalashnikov dies, aged 94

So, as Mikhail Kalashnikov passes away, here are five quick-fire facts to get you up to bullet-speed on the engineer, pronto. Starting with the basics:

1) He invented the AK-47 by winning a competition in 1947.

Hence the name of the gun, which actually stands for ‘Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947’. It’s a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62 x 39mm assault rifle. He won a gun designing competition he entered on behalf of the Soviet Union. Because they had fun events like that in 1940s Soviet Russia.

2) He was completely self-taught.

Kalashnikov was poorly educated, but taught himself how to be a mechanic, and eventually wound up becoming a tank engineer for the Russian military. He was signed up in 1938, and eventually went on to become the Lieutenant General in the Red Army.

3) He’s technically responsible for more deaths than some of the world’s most ruthless dictators.

He might not have been behind the trigger, but he was behind the design of the world’s most prolific weapon. There are thought to be over 10million AK-47s currently in circulation, many of which are used for terrorism, mass-shootings and high-level gang crimes.

How The AK-47 Become the most Abundant Weapon on Earth

4) He “sleeps well”, despite the fact he’s technically responsible for more deaths than some of the world’s most ruthless dictators.

"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," he said at a ceremony marking the rifle's 60th anniversary in 2007, proudly adding, "During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers.” A year later, however, he appeared to show some remorse, stating: "It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon."

5) But he kind of wishes he invented the lawnmower instead.

As one so frequently does.  Again, showing some sadness, he said during a visit to Germany in 2002: "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists.

"I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work - for example a lawnmower."

Need a more detailed description? Check out this feature.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea